Our Apple Valley vets are here to provide information on canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV), a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects dogs worldwide. It is important to know the symptoms and causes of parainfluenza in dogs and how to treat it.
What is the parainfluenza virus?
Parainfluenza is a viral infection that causes respiratory symptoms in dogs., similar to canine influenza, but requiring different treatments and vaccinations. Both are highly contagious and can be found in places with a high density of dogs, such as dog race tracks, shelters, and kennels.
The parainfluenza virus infection is a highly contagious viral lung infection that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as 'kennel cough.'
What are the symptoms of parainfluenza in dogs?
The symptoms of canine parainfluenza virus infections are listed below. The severity or intensity of these symptoms may vary depending on the age of the infected dog and the host's immune system:
- Coughing - This can be either a dry cough or moist and productive (can include blood)
- Low-grade fever
- Discharge from the nose - This can be mucus, pus, or even blood
- Decreased energy
- Decreased appetite
Note that the virus itself can be a component of other canine respiratory diseases, most notably kennel cough, bordetella, and canine adenovirus-2.
What causes parainfluenza in dogs?
Parainfluenza is transmitted through the air dogs breathe and is especially contagious for dogs who live or spend time with other dogs.
The parainfluenza virus is related to canine distemper and shares respiratory symptoms, including a dry, hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. Puppies and older adult dogs with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. Because of the thick secretions produced by throat irritation, toy breeds are also more susceptible to pneumonia.
The virus can remain in the hair for up to two weeks after the infection has healed.
How is parainfluenza diagnosed?
When you take your pet to the vet, they will need a thorough history from you. The parainfluenza virus spreads easily in places like boarding kennels, grooming salons, and other locations where many dogs gather. It's important to give details about your pets' activities within the 2 to 4 weeks before symptoms first appear in your pet.
Your vet will also need to know about your pet's health and vaccination history. Any interactions your pet has had with other dogs, even if in different environments, could be important in identifying the source of infection, so please provide as much information as possible.
The veterinarian will perform a physical examination, as well as some diagnostics like blood tests, cultures, and testing of fluid and tissue samples. He may also need to use imaging techniques such as radiography (x-ray) to determine whether there are any masses or parasitic involvement. Once all of the testing results have been received and analyzed, a treatment plan will be developed and implemented.
How do you treat parainfluenza in dogs?
Your vet is unlikely to recommend hospitalization because the virus is highly contagious to other canines unless the situation is dire. Instead of hospitalization, your veterinarian may make management recommendations, which will most likely include the following:
- Recommendations for healthy eating, hygiene, and nursing care
- Recommendations for corrective action for any environmental factors suspected of being contributors
- Cough suppressants containing codeine derivatives should be used only for long-term, ineffective cough relief.
- Severe chronic cases may necessitate antibiotics such as cephalosporins, quinolones, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline; the appropriate antibiotic medication will most likely be chosen based on the results of the cultures taken and analyzed.
- Some treatment options may include bronchodilator pretreatment followed by aerosolization treatments.
Is there a vaccine for dog parainfluenza?
Yes, there is. At Apple Valley Animal Hospital, we give dogs the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Then, we give boosters between 10-12 weeks old, 14-16 weeks old, and 12 months to 16 months old. After that, it is highly recommended to schedule your dog's annual vaccinations and routine exams to protect them from parainfluenza and a host of other diseases, too. You can view our vaccine schedule here.